View Full Version : Side by side - makore and korina

Pete Howlett
11-04-2017, 05:35 AM
I made my first instrument in 1976 out of makore and found a great source of korina 2 years ago. The makore sounds like mahogany and the korina like koa. These woods come from Africa, (and there is plenty of highly figured makore in the US if you look for it- https://www.cookwoods.com/wood-by-species/makore), are not on CITES, currently cost a fraction of koa and mahogany and are great to finish with a non-grain fill regimen. Here is the korina in an image set and a link to an impromptu performance with a German born student from Sweden who made the makore one on a course this week...



11-04-2017, 11:55 AM
I certainly agree that makore merits a closer look. Here's a baritone that is just getting finished up. The top is spruce so, strictly speaking, it's not a good test of makore as a tonewood but, clearly, its properties are well suited to back and sides at a minimum. Pete, this came from Cook.


11-04-2017, 12:00 PM
in a word : WOW

That makore is stunning sir... WOW

Pete Howlett
11-04-2017, 12:04 PM
I made a ukulele from makore and spruce for Martin Simpson. It will sound great.

11-04-2017, 12:15 PM
That's good to hear. This is a 6-string and is now strung up. Preliminarily, it sounds as I hoped. Dirk at Southcoast Strings is kindly helping with some fine tuning on strings and it's going to work out well.

Continuing now after computer crash....

Pete, you've got some very nice korina in your stash! That's a beautiful instrument. Got to keep my eyes open for some of that.

Pete Howlett
11-04-2017, 12:57 PM
I got very lucky - I have about 20 sets...

11-04-2017, 06:38 PM
A tasty looking uke with great joinery and finish as usual. ... I too have been looking at this Korina stuff. Except I know it more as "black limba". Goes by many names which is why scientific names are good to use to avoid confusion (Terminalia superba). One thing that has held me back from using it is its softness. Looks great but from what I understand it is quite soft at about a 700 Janka hardness (for reference koa is about 1,200 and rosewood is is around 2,500).

Pete Howlett
11-04-2017, 11:23 PM
I've never considered the Janka data in making my choices for wood. Can anyone explain its usefulness as a reference point?

11-05-2017, 08:36 PM
Well sure. It is a handy way of knowing the density of the wood you are going to work with. Handy. Kinda of like the centigrade scale for temperature: Just how cold is it going to get today. Should I wear a T-shirt or a parka? Softness or hardness of wood is a pretty good predictor of how it is going respond to vibration or structural integrity. Example: Engleman spruce sides and back wood might not be a good idea. In other words Pete it is simply a rough reference point in how the wood is going to work and respond.

Michael N.
11-05-2017, 11:25 PM
With ukuleles virtually anything goes. That's why you get very light softwoods for soundboards and medium density hardwoods being used too. Then the fact that very lightweight woods such as cypress has been used for the back/sides of guitars as well as it being used for the soundboards of harpsichords. Density figures for maple, cherry and mahogany can be bang on identical given any three examples. In other words knowing the wood type may tell you very little. People like to fix on a wood type, it gives them reassurance. In reality it gives them virtually nothing. I have examples of European spruce in which the density matches that of wester red cedar. Yet if you showed the two to players 99% of them will tell you that the spruce will sound like spruce and the cedar will sound like cedar. Show them another example of spruce that has density figures almost approaching that of a hardwood and they will still tell you that it will sound like spruce. In other words it amounts to nothing more than a medieval belief system.
As for Engleman back/sides. Why not? It will last a lifetime if the instrument is looked after as it should be. Still a number of 100 + year old cypress guitars that are still around, even playable.

Pete Howlett
11-06-2017, 03:59 AM
Like Michael I igonore received wisdom - the standard benchmark for luthiery :) It's a bit of a sad fact rrally that there is very little current or in print, doctoral level, peer reviewed, empirical research regarding stuff like this. When I built my first guitar (out of makore funnily enough) Kasha was the big noise... and noise it was. Despite the academic theory behind his physics-based sytem of bracing, Torres system held its ground until those pesky Austrailians came along and mudied the water with their ladder-braced double tops and laminated sides! Robbie O'Brian has a YouTube video with the guru of this stuff and I'm making zeds after 2 minutes... You guys are probably made of stronger stuff.

dave g
11-06-2017, 01:39 PM
I've got lots of small pieces of makore that I'm mainly using for fretboards. It's pretty, but the high silica content is really hard on saw blades. And you certainly want to use a dust mask working with it (again, the silica).